Friday, March 07, 2008

Check-raise instead of c-bet

I read about this play a couple of weeks ago, and it has worked out for me every time I've used it since:

When you hold a strong overpair on a dangerous flop out of position, you can often check-raise big instead of continuation betting. This move takes all the initiative away from the in-position player, who is more likely to hold top pair on a drawing hand than a made hand.

Consider a flop of 875 rainbow. Pretend that you’ve raised AA in middle position, and the button made the call. He’s an aggressive, thinking, and winning player. Normally, if you have AK in this spot, you’re going to mix it up between bet/folding and check/folding (leaning towards check/folding, varying from opponent to opponent). If you bet whenever you have an overpair and check whenever you have AK, the button will exploit you. If we mostly bet out with AA, he may call one street with some hands, but he’ll rarely let us barrel him to death. This is a great time to go for a check-raise. He won’t expect you to check AA out of position on this type of board. Your checkraise doesn’t make much sense, and looks bluffy. If he’s picked up any sort of pair, pair and draw, or small overpair, he may decide to re-raise you and get the money in. He might also call your check-raise and allow you to barrel him to death, thinking that you have a bluff a good portion of the time. This isn’t something you should do every time, but it can be very effective when you hit that prime spot. Keep in mind that you will run into a set sometimes; it happens.

--"Manipulation Theory," published by CardRunners

Here are a couple of examples from my recent experience:

Hand 1 (reconstructed from memory):

Hero raises UTG with KK
Button calls with with Jd Td
Flop comes Tc 8d 7c with one of the button's suit.
Hero checks
Button bets.
Hero check-raises big and button calls, unable to believe I actually have a hand. KK holds up.

Hand 2 (variation of the same idea, from actual hand history):

Hero raises UTG+1 to $50 with Ah As
Villain raises from MP to $140
Hero calls (cold call rather than reraise for deception)

Flop: 2h, 9h, 7h (nut flush draw)

Hero checks.
Villain bets $120
Hero raises all-in.
Villain calls with Js Jd

Turn: Ac

River: Jh

Hero wins $2,012 with a flush, Ace high.

There will be plenty of times when this move doesn't work out and I'll run into a monster draw or a set.

But it seems to me check-raising rather than continuation betting on some dangerous boards can be effective in giving your opponents bad pot odds and getting more money in on the flop when you still are most likely to have the best of it.


on_thg said...

"There will be plenty of times when this move doesn't work out and I'll run into a monster draw or a set."

This is what kills me, and it makes me wonder about the use of the check raise strategy. What do you do when your opponent 3-bets?

(disclaimer: I'm a donk) Since I'm not at all sure that you get either better or cheaper information by using this strategy, I would consider using it mostly as another change of pace move.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I don't know why I would leave this comment to you because you already know...

I like mixing up the two also. I like the checkraise but the checkraise tends to commit you to the pot. Nonetheless, I do that with monster draws, overpair, and sets alike. Except with the exact same holdings (monster draws, overpair, sets, etc) I also "c-bet" as well. It just depends on the table dynamics. Because I cbet a high percentage of times and I am fine with firing out two barrells depending on the board, even if I get raised on my cbet, I don't necessarily assume I'm beat since I could have a fairly wide cbetting range.